Anuradhapura, the City of the Buddhist Sangha

Anuradhapura, the City of the Buddhist Sangha

This is a talk given by one of the leading historians of South Asian history, Osmund Bopearachchi, at the University of California, on the topic of the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura, which was founded in the 4th century BC.

The talk traces the close connection there was from the beginning of the introduction of Buddhism into Sri Lanka in the 3rd century, between the religion and the state, which acted as sponsor and protector throughout its history.

The Anuradhapura site is one of the most extensive in Asia, covering some 40 sq. km., and housing hundreds of monuments, but one thing stands out: there are no royal or administrative buildings, they are all religious.

Prof. Bopearachchi discusses this matter, and many others connected with the maintenance of the Sangha in the city, which it appears accounted for nearly half its inhabitants at one time.

He also talks about some of the main religious centres, like the Abhayagiri, which was the largest monastery in the country, and belonged to the Mahāyāna group; and the Mahāvihāra, belonging to the Theravāda, which eventually won out in the Middle Ages, when the sects were unified.

This is a very interesting and informative talk by one of the great art and cultural historians of our times.

 

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